News just sort of trickles in around this time of year. We're a little over a month away from pitchers and catchers reporting. Funny how the offseason flies by when you play into November.
Here is a few tidbits to tide us over for the day...
Cubs still a finalist for Ross, also considering a Wood return
The fact that the Cubs roster is set and they are essentially linked to one player makes the offseason seem even more tedious. That player, of course, is starting pitcher Tyson Ross and he is being very methodical about making his decision. Considering this decision could be the biggest of his professional career, who can blame him? Ross has a lot of things to mull over. He is still young and while this will be that second contract every MLBer strives for, it is not quite happening the way he envisioned two years ago when he was one of the young and upcoming talents in the game. It's going to have to be that third contract where Ross makes his money, so he has to choose his team carefully. It has to be a team that not only gives him a chance to succeed on the mound, but also one that will manage his rehabilitation properly. This is it. This is Ross's big shot to prepare himself for the biggest financial opportunity he will likely ever get in baseball.
This is what Ken Rosenthal talks about in his most recent article. He reiterates Joel Sherman's information that the Cubs and Rangers appear to be the finalist. He also backed up Sherman on the possibility of Travis Wood as a fallback for the Cubs. Wood is a unique player and the Cubs may be thinking if they can't get Ross, then they may be better off bringing back Wood than one of the other starting pitchers on the market. Better the devil you know...
But it's more than just familiarity. Wood can fill any numbers of roles and that limits the risk, In other words, there is a lot less downside to signing him than there are with some of the other remaining free agents. If he doesn't make it as the 6th starter, he can always reprise his role as a lefty specialist/pinch-hitter/pinch-runner/left fielder/half-crazy guy that keeps the bullpen loose.
Schwarber wants to catch
According to Mark Gonzales of the Tribune, Kyle Schwarber still wants to catch.
"I'd like to see have the opportunity (to catch)," said Schwarber, who performed designated-hitter and pinch-hitting duties in the World Series. "If it comes, it comes. If it doesn't, it doesn't. But I'm going to fight."
That's what the Cubs love about Schwarber and while they've been pretty reticent about his chances to catch again after the knee injury, my guess is they aren't going to rule it out, much less tell Schwarber he won't be physically able to do something,. The first rule about Kyle Schwarber is that you don't rule out Kyle Schwarber.
That being said, it seems to be something of a long shot, if for no other reason that Schwarber already has plenty on his plate just to get to where he was as an outfielder before the injury. There will be no shortage of things to work on this spring.
One of those things might be a new role as the team's leadoff hitter,
"I'm open to it," said Schwarber, who possesses a lifetime on-base percentage of .353 and a .429 mark in the minors. "I know I hit there for two games. It's just another spot in the order. Once that first spot is done, you can hit eighth or third."
For his part, Schwarber doesn't think it will be all that hard to get back to where he was in the outfield. If he shows that is true, then maybe that opens up some time to take some reps behind the plate. If nothing else, it's not a bad idea to have an emergency catcher on the roster.
The Broadcast Team Returns!
Not that we ever doubted they would, but it's still good to know they're officially back.
The Kasper-Deshaies team is one of the best in baseball as well as one of the best tandems in Cubs history, in my opinion. They're intelligent, witty, and do an excellent job of relating the more modern aspects of baseball analysis.
Cubs to visit the President?
— Patrick Mooney (@CSNMooney) January 11, 2017
For reasons that have nothing to do with politics, I'm glad they'll be able to do this before the transition. President Obama is a well-noted southsider and Sox fan, so he'll probably give the Cubs a little ribbing. But he is also a baseball fan from Chicago. And even if he's not a Cubs fan, he can certainly appreciate what the Cubs World Series victory meant to the city.
Rays trade Smyly to Mariners
I was kind of hoping that the Cubs would acquire Drew Smyly, but judging by the return the Rays got, it would have taken an MLB ready CFer and there is no way the Cubs would -- or should -- trade Albert Almora.
The Rays received CFer Mallex Smith, LHP prospect Ryan Yarborough, and 17 yr old SS Carlos Vargas. Those are solid prospects, but there are questions about Smith's bat long term. Yarborough is a big lefty with a low 90s fastball, a good change, and a fringy breaking ball. He's 25 so there isn't a lot of physical projection left but could be a durable innings eater at the back of a rotation. Vargas is an intriguing 17 year old and while he is playing SS now, he is 6'3" with some room to fill out. The guess here is he winds up at 3B. The early returns indicate he has the power to carry the position offensively.
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